New research this week from City and Guilds has revealed a worrying statistic: almost a third of employers are unaware of the impending introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy.
According to Kirstie Donnelly, managing director of City & Guilds, “The lack of awareness is a cause for concern and shows that we still have a hill to climb in convincing people about the benefits apprentices can bring to business.”
With just two months to go until the levy begins, Donnelly says “It’s vital that everyone in the skills sector and the government gets out there and communicates with these less enlightened businesses to help them see the huge potential benefits apprenticeships can bring.”
Too little too late
Her words come hard on the heels of a call by skills minister Robert Halfon for businesses to get themselves organised and registered in time for the Levy’s introduction in April. But that may be too little too late, given that the C&G report states, “Almost a third of our respondents overall (28%) were not sure if they will be paying the levy in April 2017 with an additional 10% telling us they definitely don’t think they will be – this is despite the fact that we only questioned organisations that will be eligible to pay the levy.
However, in addition to low levels of recognition, The majority of respondents told City and Guilds that they have built apprenticeships into their recruitment plan for the coming years (81% of respondents); “And of those who have, there is variety in the way employers intend to manage their programmes with respondents saying they are looking to work with colleges and providers whilst also manage their training in-house.
Another encouraging sign to come out of the C&G report was the fact that, following the Levy’s introduction, almost a third of senior decision makers say they plan to increase the number of apprentices they employ. “In contrast, a significant minority of respondents told us that they will be reducing (16%) or entirely cutting (13%) their training budget to pay for the levy.”